News

Euroa man pleads guilty to sexual assaults he ‘can’t remember’

By Monique Preston

A man who sexually assaulted his daughter, a partner’s daughter and one of his daughter’s friends will have to await his fate after a judge deferred his sentence.

The man, who is now aged 67 and cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty in the Shepparton County Court on Tuesday to five charges of sexual penetration of a child aged under 16 years, four counts of an indecent act with a child aged under 16 years and one count of incest.

The three victims were all aged under 10 years when the assaults occurred, with his daughter as young as four during one of the assaults.

The court heard the man sexually penetrated his then partner's daughter four times and committed an indecent act with her three times while she was aged between seven and nine years between 2000 and 2003 at his home in Euroa.

He was also charged with one count of incest against his young daughter, as well as wilfully committing an indecent act between 2003 and 2006 when she was aged between four and six years.

In 2004, he also sexually penetrated his daughter’s young friend while she was having a sleepover at his house.

The man was aged between 47 and 52 when he committed the offences.

The court was told the offences against the man’s then partner’s daughter were committed while she and her mother would stay over at his Euroa home.

After that relationship broke up, the man’s daughter continued to stay with him on weekends and it was during this time the offences occurred against her.

Prosecutor Kathryn Hamill told the court the little girl would often get up during the night and get into her father’s bed where the offending mainly occurred.

Ms Hamill said the girl’s friend was assaulted when she and the man’s daughter got into bed with him after becoming scared during a storm during a sleepover.

The court was told the man could not remember any of the incidents taking place.

The court heard that during a pretext phone call with his daughter’s friend in 2017, the man said he told her “I can’t remember doing that” as well as saying “I’m dead set against touching”. Followed by “I can only assume I would have done it in a drunken stupor”.

Ms Hamill said when confronted about the offences against his partner’s daughter in a police interview in 2018, the man told police “I don’t think she even stayed over” as well as denying the allegations.

Victim statements were read to the court by all three victims, with the man’s partner’s daughter saying she had “wanted to hurt myself over this” and that she had cried herself to sleep many times.

“I don’t think men realise how much this affects women,” she said.

“I want to wake up one day and not think about this.”

The victim impact statement from the man’s daughter said she was “scared and confused at the time” and had tried to block out of her mind what had happened to her.

She also spoke of how she did not have a lot of trust in other people.

Her friend’s victim impact statement told the court of how the assault had “destroyed her childhood and teenage years” and how she was “always looking over her shoulder” and could not stay at home alone.

“I’m scared he will try and get me for speaking up,” she said.

The man’s barrister, William Barker, told the court his client had been the victim of sexual abuse by one of his half-brother’s friends as well as by a superior when he was in an institution.

Mr Barker also spoke of how his client’s father had physically assaulted him “once every month for as long as he can remember” until he left home at the age of 11 or 12.

He also spoke of the man’s drinking problem, saying he started drinking alcohol at the age of 14 years.

Judge Mark Taft said the man’s “moral culpability can only be described as very great indeed”.

“There are three girls under 10, in one case as young as four, whose lives have been shattered by what has occurred,” he said.

The man was remanded in custody to be sentenced on a date yet to be decided.